Self-Managed Care for Type I and Type II Diabetes

Do you know what the most common serious health disorder in America is? You might be surprised to find that it happens to be diabetes. Here’s something else you might not have known. Diabetes is the number one cause of both blindness and kidney failure. Of course, referring to the ailment as diabetes is somewhat misleading as there are actually two different types of diabetes.

Type I diabetes used to be known as juvenile-onset diabetes because it showed up most often during childhood or adolescence. Type I diabetes accounts for less than 10% of all diabetes cases in the US. In Type I diabetes the body is unable to produce insulin because the cells that produce that insulin, the beta cells, are destroyed due to an auto-immune reaction. The result of this lack of insulin can be dangerous; if a patient doesn’t take their insulin injection death can result in a matter of days. The common symptoms of Type I diabetes are fairly obvious for a doctor to pick up on: extreme or unusual thirst, an increased need to urinate, blurred or otherwise impaired vision and sudden and unexplained weight loss.

Type II diabetes typically develops later in life, usually after the age of 45. It is estimated that up to 10% of all adults will experience Type II diabetes. Many people who experience the onset of Type II are overweight or obese. In this case the beta cells simply don’t make enough insulin to cover the increased need associated with the excess weight. Insulin shots are not always required in patients with Type II, which ironically often increases the danger. Patients often take the fact that they don’t need insulin shots as a sign that the condition isn’t serious. You should be aware that even if you don’t’ require insulin shots, diabetes can still lead to very serious complications if not treated adequately. Type II symptoms often are more difficult to identify because the glucose levels rise more slowly and therefore the symptoms take longer to manifest. Many Type II diabetes sufferers go for years without even realizing they have it because the symptoms go unnoticed and, consequently, untreated.

The reason that Type II diabetes often doesn’t require insulin injections is that it can usually be treated with lifestyle changes involving proper nutrition and exercise. Because up to 80% of Type II diabetes patients are overweight, changing one’s diet and introducing an exercise program often results in enough weight loss to naturally improve the metabolic process. As the levels of blood sugar improves, often so does blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Type I diabetes sufferers should also watch their food intake, but they must do so in addition to insulin injections usually. Patients suffering from Type I often must vigilantly monitor their carbohydrate intake in relation to the other nutrients; Type II patients usually need only monitor their overall caloric intake. This is best accomplished by lowering the levels of saturated fat in your diet, while increasing the amount of vegetables, fruits and grains you eat.

Surprisingly, sugar consumption isn’t that overwhelmingly important, despite what you may think. For patients with Type I diabetes, yes, you must watch out how much sugar you eat, but patients with Type II can get away with more. Even so, since a reduction in the sugar you eat can help facilitate control of blood sugar levels, it’s still a good idea to monitor how much and how often you eat sugar.

The importance of exercise in dealing with diabetes should not be discounted. Aeroboic activity helps to increase the cellular sensitivity to insulin and an offshoot of this is that it also reduces the actual amount of insulin the body needs in order to operate properly.

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